Remember summer 2017, when the Riverdale cast couldn’t stop talking about how horny everyone in Riverdale High was about to become in season 2? Well, amid all the pearl-adorned shower sex, surprise sex work, and teen incest, Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) finally got in on Riverdale Township’s extremely frisky behaviour. Yes, months after the season 1 finale — where the call of biker gang activity interrupted Betty and Jughead Jones’ (Cole Sprouse) quickly escalating kitchen hookup — the youngest Cooper daughter officially lost her virginity during Wednesday night’s “The Wicked and the Divine.”
While virginity itself is an outdated social construct, the way Riverdale approached Betty’s first big sex scene versus her BFF Veronica Lodge’s (Camila Mendes) initial foray into on-camera sexuality does say a lot. Although the CW soap has done away with many vestiges of the decades-old Archie Comics, which the series is based on, it's still playing into Betty’s “Good Girl” history.
All of “Divine” serves as a sly lead up to Betty and Jughead’s reunion, which will end up being both emotional and sexual. In the surprisingly long cold open, Betty and Jughead have an uncomfortable chat about how they’ve dealt with their breakup. Jughead admits he “did some stuff” with Serpent BFF Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan), but didn’t actually do “everything,” if you get his drift. Has Betty done anything with anyone recently? “No, no. Of course not,” she assures Jughead, appearing physically uncomfortable about the question, because she’s Not That Kind Of Girl (her recent internet activity may also be a factor here, more on that later).
In another effort to make Betty and Jughead’s looming big moment feel like it jibes with her Nice Girl sensibilities, the exes go back to what made them fall in love in the first place: teen sleuthing. What an innocent time it was when Bughead’s greatest aim was to track down an MIA Polly Cooper (Tiera Skovbye). Now, the soon-to-be lovers need to locate the head of General Pickens The Child Slaughterer’s statue to save the Serpents. This entire B-plot only exists to make Betty and Jughead’s eventual sex scene seem more emotional than sexual.
We can tell that’s true by how the entire moment is framed towards the end of “Wicked and the Divine.” Bughead isn’t overcome by lust and rip each other’s clothes off like a pair of hormone fuelled teens. Nope, they have a nice long emotional chat about the failing of their relationship, their latest detective successes, and all the apologies they’ve always needed to say. It’s decidedly mature for high schoolers, but not very sexy.
Things eventually get sexy, but only after everyone is properly invested in their feelings. Once all the talking is over, we see Betty straddle Jughead with her dress completely unzipped and I assume her final seductive line — “I just want you. I want all of you tonight” — will be emblazoned on a legion of Tumblr GIFs for years to come. But, then, the camera pulls away, as if to say, “Let’s give these two some privacy.”
We can all agree this is not the treatment Veronica got with her first real sex scene with Archie Andrews (K.J. Apa). In the season 2 premiere, “A Kiss Before Dying” Riverdale’s other leading couple gets frisky following the attempted murder of Archie’s dad Fred Andrews (Luke Perry). There’s no Big Conversation beforehand, or, actually, any conversation at all. Rather, we get lots of gratuitous looks at Apa’s abs in an impossibly steamy shower followed by a shot of Veronica realising she can only help her boyfriend with some sexual healing. She ditches her clothes, save for that infamous hoity-toity necklace, and purrs at Archie, “Thought you might want some company.” As closed captioning proves, this is a statement and not a question. Because, you know, Veronica is a vixen, darn it.
While Bughead is limited to some sultry, visually removed kissing on a couch, Varchie’s sex scene is far more explicit. It’s literally two fully naked teens passionately making out in a shower, and the camera stays so closely on the hookup we can practically see their pores opening up amid all the sexy, sexy steam. When the camera does pan out, it’s to emphasise the silhouettes of Archie and Veronica’s nude hookup and possibly even suggest penetration. There is absolutely no privacy here.
Although I’m not campaigning for Betty’s sexier scenes to go from PG-13 to XXX as soon as possible, it is pretty clear she’s still only allowed to explore raw sexuality as the raven-haired Dark Betty. While Regular Betty can only get to that place after lengthy conversations with the boy she’s in love with, Dark Betty can walk through that field with complete strangers. At the top of “Wicked,” we see the young woman in her Bettie Page wig and lingerie talking to an unknown man through the computer.
“Do I look good?” he asks. “Can I undress for you? I love talking to you. Can we meet sometime?” With each question, Betty purrs in the playfully sexy affirmative. While we’re not even going to deal with whether or not the unseen guy was actually “fantasy fulfilment” expert and Betty’s brother Chic Cooper (Hart Denton), everyone can see what happens between Bughead later in the episode can’t come close to this scene’s full-throttle level of sexual expression.
I’m starting to think Betty’s Good Girl facade and vixen interior will only be allowed to co-exist if she goes permanently brunette à la Veronica Cecelia Lodge.
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